Today’s 5-2 fast day offering is all about generosity as I attempt to chase away the mid winter blues with a vibrant yet hearty plate of food. Fasting through the depths of winter is no mean feat. So many opportunities to veer off track. My particular Achilles Heel? A sneaky warming (skim) milk cappuccino (70 calories). Manageable if I stop at one, challenging if I progress to two and a lost cause at number three. On my very best days I revert to tea. Black. No Sugar. No calories to speak of. Mariage Freres beautifully fragrant Marco Polo Rouge my current favourite brew.
On bleak days I’ve been consoling myself with the thought that at least we’ve passed the Winter Solstice (June 21) and our days will slowly but surely become brighter and longer. On cold fast days of successful cappuccino self denial I try to reward myself with a more substantial evening meal. And so it is that with loads of chermoula paste in the freezer from last week’s post and gorgeous heads of cauliflower in season at the markets tonight I’m feasting on a bright and comforting Warm Cauliflower Couscous With Chermoula Spiced Grilled Chicken and Roasted Pumpkin and Capsicum. So much flavour for so little calories – 336 for a heaping plate to be exact.
The secret is to take finely grated cauliflower “rice” and dry toast it in a smoking hot heavy based pan with a generous pinch of turmeric. The resulting “grains” are light and fluffy with a glorious golden hue, wonderfully nutty flavour and ‘al dente’ texture. Prepared this way the cauliflower is almost indiscernible from regular couscous. A light but filling and very clever substitution for calorie dense grains in my fast day meal. It’s a trick I’m keeping up my sleeve for more ideas to come.
Warm Cauliflower Couscous with Grilled Chermoula Spiced Chicken, Roast Pumpkin And Capsicum.
Serves 4 (336 calories per serve)
500g skinless and boneless chicken thigh fillets (595 calories)
3 tablespoons chermoula paste (recipe here)(127 calories)
2 red capsicums (60 calories)
1/2 small butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced into crescents (about 350g) (92 calories)
1 tablespoons olive oil, divided (120 calories)
1 medium head cauliflower (146 calories)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (4 calories)
3 long green spring onions, finely sliced (21 calories)
handful coriander , finely chopped, to serve (2 calories)
handful mint, finely chopped, to serve (2 calories)
handful coriander, finely chopped (2 calories)
sea salt flakes
Chermoula Yoghurt Dressing
1/2 cup plain Greek yoghurt (85 calories)
2 tablespoons chermoula paste (recipe here) (85 calories)
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon (2 calories)
To Prepare Chermoula Spiced Chicken
MAKE several deep cuts into the chicken thighs and spread chermoula paste evenly over the chicken.
COVER with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for a minimum 30 minutes to marinate. If you have time, leave the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
HEAT barbecue plate or lightly greased griddle pan until smoking hot. Remove chicken from refrigerator, and grill over medium to medium high heat, about 6 minutes per side, or until chicken is just cooked through.
ALLOW to rest for 10 minutes before slicing on the diagonal and serving.
To Prepare Capsicum and Pumpkin
PREHEAT oven to 200 C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
PLACE whole capsicum in oven directly over a rack and bake until skin is blistered and blackened, about 30 minutes.
TOSS thinly sliced pumpkin crescents with one tablespoon of olive oil until lightly coated. Arrange in an even layer over prepared oven tray.
SPRINKLE liberally with sea salt and place in hot oven to roast for 20 minutes until tender and golden, turning once after 10 minutes.
REMOVE roasted vegetables from oven and allow to cool. Peel and deseed capsicum, before slicing into strips. Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
To Prepare Cauliflower ‘Couscous’
SEPARATE the cauliflower into florets and grate using either a box grater or food processor.
HEAT a large heavy based fry pan or wok until smoking. Toast grated cauliflower with turmeric until golden, stirring often to ensure cauliflower doesn’t burn. Set aside.
To Prepare Chermoula Yoghurt Dressing
COMBINE chermoula paste with yoghurt and lemon juice in a small bowl.
IN A LARGE BOWL, combine toasted cauliflower with grilled chermoula spiced chicken, roasted capsicum and sweet potato. Season to taste with sea salt.
TRANSFER to a serving platter, scatter over finely chopped spring onions, parsley, coriander and mint. Finish with a good drizzle of chermoula yoghurt dressing.